BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera is being groomed by the tourism department as a prime farm and ecotourism destination in the country because of its rich natural resources and well-preserved and protected environment,” Tourism Undersecretary Marco Bautista said here recently.
The tourism official admitted the Cordillera has been marginalized in terms of government support for the promotion and development of existing and newly discovered farm and ecotourism destinations and the region will benefit from the agency’s existing program to develop farm and ecotourism destinations around the country.
“We should maximize the tourism potentials of our region’s rich natural resources because aside from increasing economic activities, farm and ecotourism will translate to food security and countryside development while sustaining efforts to preserve and protect our God-given environment,” Undersecretary Bautista stressed.
He claimed that it is unfortunate that there are only few farm destinations that have been accredited by the tourism department despite the presence of a good number of farm destinations regionwide, thus, the need for relevant government agencies and local governments to converge in ensuring that existing unaccredited farm destinations will be given the necessary support for them to comply with farm destination standards.
Undersecretary Bautista claimed the region benefited from the implementation of the convergence program of the tourism and public works department in the development of barangay and local roads leading to identified tourist spots over the past 4 years, and now is the time for the region to also gain from the convergence program of the tourism and agriculture departments on the accreditation of farm destinations to improve the economic activities in the countryside.
“The region’s natural resources are our assets that must be continuously preserved and protected to sustain the robust growth of our tourism industry. Let us not allow our natural resources to be damaged which might result to a serious setback in terms of sustaining the growth of the local tourism industry,” Bautista added.
According to him, the Philippines has been lagging behind in the Southeast Asian region in terms of farm tourism thus the tourism department is considering prioritizing farm tourism as one of its flagship programs to promote untapped destinations around the country, especially the Cordillera which hosts numerous potential farm destinations that could be frequented by foreign and domestic visitors.
Bautista underscored ecotourism is one of the major priority programs of the tourism department aside from beach and leisure because there is a constant need to provide foreign and domestic visitors with alternative destinations to entice them to keep moving around the country and spending for their visits to the said places.
He pointed out the country has to continue embarking on sustainable environmental preservation and protection programs to advance the state of the country’s tourism industry to continuously increase foreign tourist arrivals to make tourism one of the major economic drivers in the coming years.